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Commonwealth Trade: Meetings

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We welcome the fact that Commonwealth Heads of Government will discuss the theme of trade, investment and development at their meeting in Edinburgh in October. This will be preceded by a Commonwealth business forum in London. We hope the Commonwealth will consider a wide range of measures to increase Commonwealth prosperity including the possible role of trade ministers.

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London Diplomatic Missions: Unpaid Parking Fines

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many parking fines were incurred by diplomatic missions in London during 1996.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: During 1996 the London diplomatic mission incurred a total of 1,676 unpaid parking fines, which is slightly more than the 1995 figure of 1,586. In February this year this department wrote to all diplomatic missions to give them an opportunity to pay off all outstanding parking tickets, or appeal to have the ticket cancelled. Since then payments totalling £48,640.00 have been received, compared with £11,600.00 in 1996. The table below shows only missions which have 11 or more fines outstanding.

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Unpaid Parking Fines

PositionDiplomatic Mission19961995
17Russian Federation3515
25League of Arab States2426
35El Salvador151
International Organisations
1Commonwealth Secretariat2016

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Consular Fees

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans he has to change consular fees.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: An Order in Council was made on 20 May which reduces both the cost of a five year multiple entry visa and the cost of a certificate of entitlement and completes the three staged increase in settlement visa fees designed to achieve full cost recovery in this category. The order also abolishes the fee for the confirmation of the right of abode (now obsolete). The order will come into effect on 10 June.

Former Yugoslavia: Criminal Tribunal

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will reopen discussions with the American Government on handing over to the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia recordings made jointly by US and British intelligence agencies of conversations involving President Milosevic and others, which may constitute evidence of complicity in war crimes.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is long-standing practice not to comment on the detailed activities of the intelligence and security services. We are strongly committed to supporting the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Where relevant, we will consult the United States Government on our responses to the tribunal's requests for information. Within the constraints of national security we are as helpful as possible to the tribunal on such matters, and provide a similar level of co-operation as we would to the corresponding British authorities.

World Wide Web: British Embassy Sites

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which British embassies or other overseas government posts have or support their own sites on the world-wide web; and, if any, what are the universal resource allocators (URLs) of these sites.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: "BRITAIN IN THE USA", maintained by British Information Services, New York on behalf of all Posts in the United States.


"BRITISH INFORMATION SERVICES AUSTRALIA", maintained by the British High Commission, Canberra.

"GROSSBRITANNIEN ONLINE", maintained by the British Embassy, Bonn.


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"GATE UK", maintained by the British Embassy, Tokyo.



Further sites are due to be launched in the near future; details will be posted on FCO's own Internet service, "FCO ON-LINE", at:


NATO: Enlargement

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that no expansion of NATO to the east should take place without the agreement of Russia.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Enlargement of the Alliance is a matter for NATO and those countries which apply to join it. The United Kingdom and other allies are committed to announcing at the NATO Summit meeting in July that one or more countries will be invited to join.

Human Rights: Mr. Nigel Rodley's Report

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received the human rights report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur Nigel Rodley on persons subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; what action was taken by the previous Government on the recommendations made by Mr. Rodley in 1995 and 1996; and what actions they will be taking in the light of the present Report and their undertaking in the gracious Speech.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have indeed received Mr. Rodley's latest report on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The UK co-sponsored a number of resolutions at the Commission on Human Rights in 1996 and 1997 based on Mr. Rodley's 1995 and 1996 reports, and generally supporting his work. We are committed to ensuring that promotion of human rights is at the centre of the UK's foreign policy.

Service Dental and Medical Officers: Pay

Lord Merlyn-Rees asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have concerning the pay of medical and dental officers in the Armed Forces.

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The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The Armed Forces Pay Review Body has made recommendations on the pay of medical and dental officers in the Armed Forces. The review body recommends that the daily rate of basic pay should be increased by an average of 3.4 per cent. from 1 April. They have further proposed some significant changes to the pay structures of Service medical and dental officers which will see many forms of additional payments, such as consultant pay, consolidated into basic pay. The Review Body also mentioned that it welcomed the fact that the Ministry of Defence was, in future, proposing to base the pensions of Service medical and dental officers on representative rates of their own salaries rather than that of their combatant counterparts. These changes will serve to give a greater degree of comparability between the pay of defence medical staff and their counterparts in the NHS. The Government have decided to accept the review body's recommendations. Along with earlier recommendations of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, and the recommendations of the other review bodies, these will be staged, with 2 per cent. of the award being back dated to 1 April, and the remainder being payable from 1 December.

Education: 17 and 18 year-olds

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what measure "Britain has a smaller share of 17 and 18 years olds in full-time education than any major industrial nation" (to quote from the Labour party manifesto); on what data that measure is based and by what means it may be derived therefrom; whether Her Majesty's Government are content for their record to be judged by that measure; and whether that measure also applies to Northern Ireland.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The statement is based on age participation rates for 1992 published by the OECD in 1995 in Education at a Glance, copies of which are in the Library. These rates are derived from the data supplied by my department, and by other countries direct to the OECD. They are the numbers of pupils and students of the relevant age expressed as a percentage of the population of the same age and they cover the whole of the UK. I am content for my department to continue to make this information available to the OECD to allow for a comparison of our performance with other countries.

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